Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lavender Custards & Sweet Scented Laundry

Since moving to our new/old cottage in town I've planted scores of wonderful lavenders-from the tiny Hidcote with its deep purple blooms to the small mounds of Munstead, the robust Spanish and French, and the wandlike Provence, Grosso, and English. Can you ever have too many lavenders? The bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies don't think so and neither do I!

For those of you who think that clothes-lines are an old-fashioned alternative to dryers, well, lavenders are an even older alternative. Picture the cottage gardens of days past with their lavender hedges strewn with drying clothing. Ladies believed that the lavender would permeate their clothes with its sweet scent.

I can't bear to cover my lavenders and exclude the bumblebees, so I capture the aroma another way. Whenever I harvest baskets of lavender buds for cooking, potpourri, sachets, and moth chaser and bath bags, I save some for my dryer. I fill small muslin bags or pieces of thin fabric with the fresh blooms, tie the bag closed, and toss it into the dryer with each load of clothes. I use the bags over and over until the scent weakens, then I empty the bag onto my carpet and vacuum it, which makes a musty vacuum smell fresh.

Whenever I trim or prune my lavenders, nothing is wasted. Stems are bundled with twine and used as fire-starters. Perfect florets are added to both herbal and black tea blends (go lightly or it will make the tea taste soapy). My own blend of herbs in which lavender figures prominently (herbes de San Luis) is great for salad dressings, as an addition to soups and breads, and as a mouth watering crust for cuts of meat and poultry.

Herbes de San Luis

One tablespoon marjoram
One tablespoon oregano
One tablespoon savory
Two tablespoons thyme
One half tablespoon lavender

Pick fresh herbs early in the morning and spread them on a screen or newspaper to dry.
After herbs are dry, put them into a food processor and pulse 'til coarsely ground.
(You may want to push the ground herbs through a sieve to further process them.)
Store your blend in a tightly covered or glass jar away from heat and light.

One of my favorite and simplest uses for lavender buds is to grind them finely into sugar. The lavender sugar can be sprinkled onto a custard and slipped under the broiler for a minute to make a crunchy and decidedly herbal crust.

Lavender Bath Bag

Handful of lavender heads
Handful of fragrant rose petals
A few lemon verbena leaves
1 ounce of rolled oats (this softens your skin)
Tie the herbs and oats securely in a bag, hang dry between uses.

Summer is nearly here! May you enjoy every day in your garden and home, and may lavender become a part of your life.

Green blessings,



Storybook Woods said...

I am a lavender addict. Whenever I am stressed, lavender seems to melt it all away. Clarice

Anonymous said...

Thank you for coming and visiting my blog. As you can see I have really enjoyed your books and I am working on collecting them. Trowel and Error is in the mail as we speak and I am interested in looking through the one on Hollyhocks. I am going to try growing some this year.
Thank you for all the information on Lavender as well. I am going to try growing some as well so I will have to try some of your suggests. I like trying new things.
We are getting a late start though. The weather here has been colder longer than normal so I think it will be fine. We can usually grow things on in to October so we will see.
Thank you again for coming and visiting me!! Next week I will be posting pictures of my "living fence".:-) All inspired by you!! Thank You for all the great ideas!!


Wendy said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, Sharon! All your lavender tips are wonderful, now I wish I had a field full so I could try some of them!

Esther Plaster said...

we have two varieties in pots on our back yard and they are blooming so prettily. i just clipped a few and put them in little bud vases and i love them! thanks for the offers of other new uses for the most wonderful scent God could have created! enjoy the bumble bees and french laundry!

The Diva said...


I found your blog thru Aisling @ the Quiet Country House. I'm so glad to get to tell you how much I've enjoyed your books. I have them all and created many of the plant projects with my children.

I'm looking forward to reading your blog and am excited about the new book.~~Dee

L'Adelaide said...

I wandered over from Quiet Country House and am so glad I did....I adore lavender and must say that, where I live, it is one of the few things that absolutely flourishes on the hilltops of California...I must get your books, they sound lovely as well...I have so many bumblebees I wondered if we were grand central for them til I read your mention of covering them up so it must not just be me....I have actually used my lavender for clothes lines for short times with no problems for either bees nor plants....I am thinking of planting many many more of them along with butterfly bushes!

rmlrhonda said...

What wonderful lavender ideas (now I'm picturing light purple thought bubbles)! I just stumbled onto your blog and I see it will become another one of my regulars. I recently purchased your "Sunflower Houses" for my library,(I am a public librarian)and I love it and am in the process of planning for next year's programming using it as one of my resources. I'll have to check out some more of your books!